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5 Step Guide to Growing Gorgeous Garlic

Do you know where your garlic comes from? One of the most important reasons to grow your own is to avoid toxic chemicals and irradiation (that inhibit sprouting and extend shelf life).*

Garlic in a Basket | The Micro Gardener

Garlic … how safe to eat is yours?

A few years back I didn’t even think about the garlic I ate … but then I became interested in the story behind the food I was eating.

The majority of the world’s garlic is grown in China and is sprayed with chemicals and bleached white with chlorine during importation quarantine processes, not to mention the thousands of food miles clocked up.

But if you really want to gag on your garlic, according to the CEO of the Australian Garlic Industry Association, “some garlic growers over there (China) use raw human sewage to fertilise their crops, and I don’t believe the Australian quarantine regulations are strict enough in terms of bacteria testing on imported produce” … so you might want to think again before you reach for that perfect white bulb in your supermarket! [Learn more & download an 'Irradiation-free Food Guide' at the end of this post]

In Australia, 90% of the garlic we eat is imported yet we have around 15 different garlic varieties available to grow that don’t need to be biofumigated with chemicals like methyl bromide that have been banned here for domestic use.

 

Garlic bulbs

Garlic is SO good for us … but not when it’s treated with chemicals.

 

4 Reasons to Grow Garlic

 

  1. For health, amazing flavour + pest management in your garden.
  2. Safe food = avoid imported garlic – it’s cheap for a reason.
  3. Save money – organic garlic averages A$35-45/kg.
  4. It’s SO easy to grow so there’s no excuse!

 

“Where you find garlic, you find good health.” – Old Spanish proverb

 

Garlic is a bulbous perennial herb but grown as an annual. OK – it IS slow growing (avg 6-8 months), but it’s NOT a bed hog like pumpkins and doesn’t take up much ‘personal space’, so I’m happy to dedicate about 1m2 to growing gorgeous garlic to feed my family for an entire year. It’s a member of the Allium (onion) family – all space savers!

 

White garlic cloves. Photo: Jon Sullivan

It’s a staple ingredient in my kitchen all year round.

 

Tutorial: 5 Steps to Growing Gorgeous Garlic

 

When to Plant:

  • Garlic can be grown in all zones. For higher yields and larger cloves, the best time to plant is Autumn. Don’t despair though – garlic can be planted during the year but the size of bulbs may be smaller. (When it tastes this awesome, you need less and it saves you so much money, so who cares?)

 

Garlic cloves

“To grow gorgeous garlic, all you need is a little preparation and patience – the results are totally worth it.”

 

  • In 2011, I didn’t get the chance to plant in Autumn so bunged in a stack of soft neck garlic I had left in my fridge on 25 August and harvested it exactly 3 months later on 25 November. This was a wonderful discovery because even though I had technically planted at the ‘wrong time’ I found a variety that grows well in my climate … and in a speedy 3 month period rather than waiting an average 6 months!

 

Garlic hanging ready for use in my kitchen | The Micro Gardener

I harvested about 40 bulbs and have 3 left just over 4 months later. At current prices/kg, this harvest would have cost me $80+ … money back in my pocket!

 

  • If you live in a high rainfall area, avoid harvesting in the wet season because bulbs can rot. Time your planting for a warm, dry harvest period. [See What to Plant When for your climate zone and use one of the calendar tools listed to help guide you.]

 

Moon Gardening Calendar | The Micro Gardener

I use this simple Moon Calendar to help maximise yields by planting at the optimum time of the month.

 

Step 1: Select & prepare your garlic.

 

Russian or Elephant garlic with a hard inner stalk

Garlic doesn’t grow from seed but from mature bulbs separated into cloves.

 

  • Choosing Varieties: Soft neck varieties braid and store well; produce 12-13 cloves/head but have no flower stem and suit warm climates with mild winters. One of the best varieties for our subtropical zone is ‘Glen Large’. Hard neck garlic types send up a hard, flowering stem so are less suitable for braiding, are milder tasting but have a shorter shelf life as they have less layers of skin around the bulb. Elephant or Russian garlic is not a true garlic (known as a bulbing leek and has a milder flavour). Select varieties that grow well in your local climate zone.

 

3 varieties of garlic: Purple, softneck & Russian | The Micro Gardener

I am planting several new varieties this year so I learn which do best in my climate. These will also give me different flavours and maturity times so I can stagger my harvest.

 

  • Where to buy: Source locally grown organic garlic from organic growers and shops, online and farmers markets.

 

Click below for more garlic resources

Your support of this site is appreciated!

  • Selecting cloves: If buying from a store, choose your bulbs carefully. Pick the largest bulbs you can find – the size of the cloves you plant will determine whether you get big or small heads when you harvest.

 

Garlic section - smaller vs larger cloves | The Micro Gardener

Use the smallest internal cloves (those less than 1 gram in weight) for cooking rather than planting.

 

  • If you’re planting garlic from bulbs you have harvested last season, save your larger ones for this year’s crop. Make sure there are no signs of disease, marks or soft spots. Quality matters! Count roughly how many cloves/bulb to determine how many bulbs you need to buy for planting.
  • How many? How much do you eat?! We eat a lot of garlic so I plant enough to have at least one bulb every week of the year (52 + a few extras as a buffer). Each clove grows 1 bulb.
  • Chill garlic cloves in the fridge for a few weeks (this improves bulb development). You can skip this step but it helps grow bigger garlic.
  • To prevent rotting in the soil, here’s a little tip: soak your cloves in a glass jar with equal quantities of baking soda to organic liquid seaweed for 2 hours. e.g. for 8-10 cloves (1 average bulb) = 1 tblspn baking soda: 1 tblspn seaweed. Increase quantity depending on number of cloves you’re planting.

 

Step 2: Prepare your container or garden bed.

 

  • Soil test with a pH tester or kit. Garlic prefers soil with a pH 6.5 – 7.0.

 

pH Tester - A great investment for around $10. | The Micro Gardener

If you need to raise your soil pH, consider adding dolomite or agricultural lime.

 

  • Likes: Full sun position; well-drained, humus-rich soil (add worm castings, homemade compost, humus, well rotted manure or blood & bone) plus a balance of nutrients (I use a complete organic fertiliser that includes rock minerals). Because garlic is a hungry root crop, the soil needs to be light and fluffy so turn it over gently if needed and mix your fertiliser in well first.
  • Garlic LOVES mulch to prevent weeds, provide protection, maintain soil moisture and keep soil cool longer.
  • Dislikes: Too dry (when young), too wet or freezing. The colder your winter, the deeper your mulch should be. I add about 8cm here in the sub-tropics, but very cold areas could need 10-15cm.
  • Companion Planting: Garlic helps improve the health and growth of other plants including raspberries, beetroot, strawberries, tomatoes, lettuce, summer savoury & roses. On the flip side, never plant garlic near peas or beans. I’ve seen this in practice (even with chives & spring onions near bean plants) and they just won’t be friends so don’t waste your time and money!

 

Garlic & onions belong to the Allium family

Garlic is a member of the Allium family (onions, leeks, chives, shallots) so companion planting rules apply to all those family members.

 

  • Location: Good crop rotation practices help prevent diseases so avoid planting garlic where you’ve grown members of the Allium family in the last couple of years. If you have to reuse a pot, add fresh potting mix.

 

Step 3: Planting

 

  • Separate the garlic head into individual cloves – largest ones will be around the outside and are ideal for planting. Small inner cloves can be used for cooking. 

 

Garlic choose best size cloves. | The Micro Gardener

Be gentle to avoid bruising the garlic – cuts and bruises can provide entry points for rot to set in.

 

  • Sowing: Make a hole with your finger or the handle of your trowel roughly twice the depth of the clove (about 5cm/2in) and 10cm/4in apart.

 

Garlic clove right side up

Plant each clove with the pointed end facing upwards.

 

  • Press down very firmly as you back fill with soil (to avoid the bulbs being pushed out after a few days as the roots start to develop). Check at this stage and reposition them back into line!  Water in well with liquid seaweed. When the shoots are about 5cm/2in high, add mulch thickly to suppress weeds.
  • Distance between rows: 30cm/12in. Yields: 1m2/3ft2 can produce 52 garlic bulbs – one for every week of the year.
  • Container planting: Garlic grows 40-60cm/15-24in high depending on the variety and although you may not get as large bulbs in a pot, they are most definitely worth growing. As they are a long growing crop, interplant with fast growing lettuces and leafy greens around the outside. Pot depth should be at least 15cm/6in.

How to Plant Garlic in a Container

YouTube Preview Image

 

Step 4: Nurture Your Garlic

 

  • The new shoots will appear and when they are about 15cm tall, it’s time to fertilise again with liquid nutrients.

Garlic growing. | The Micro Gardener

  • Every 2 weeks, I use seaweed or fish emulsion + a slurp of molasses in a watering can; worm juice (liquid from my worm farm) or compost tea. Alternating their liquid diet seems to keep my garlic babies happy.
  • In between, water regularly (unless it rains) until the plant flowers (hard neck varieties) or about 1 month before harvest (soft neck). This allows bulbs to dry out and harden. I maintain adequate soil moisture of 40-50% by checking every so often with a moisture meter. Soil should be moist NOT wet.
  • Most importantly keep weeds at bay (garlic has a big appetite and doesn’t like competition)!

 

Step 5: Harvest (the fun part!)

 

  • Keep a record of when you plant so you know the time your garlic variety is likely to mature.
  • You have a window of opportunity to harvest – too soon and it will look like an onion (the segments and papery wrapper will not yet be formed).

 

Garlic harvested too late

Too late and the cloves will grow and expand so much the outer tissue paper-like wrapper will split, which will reduce bulb quality and storage life.

 

  • As a guideline, harvest hard neck garlic when roughly 1/3 – 1/2 the leaves are brown and wilted. Harvest soft neck varieties when the bottom few leaves start dying off or the garlic falls over. If you’re not sure, pull out one bulb to test it is fully formed before harvesting the whole crop.

 

Abundant harvest of gorgeous garlic

Avoid watering before harvesting so the bulbs are dry. Nothing worse than pulling muddy bulbs!

 

  • Dig or gently pull up the whole plant – I don’t recommend using a garden fork or you can accidentally spear your bulb (like I did the first time!!) and watch out for earthworms that love to party around the roots.

 

Garlic freshly harvested from my garden.

Don’t be tempted to wash it at this stage. Dirt is GOOD! Leave it be – you can gently brush off the excess with a toothbrush after it’s cured.

 

  • Leave a few garlic heads in the soil rather than harvesting them all at this stage.

 

Garlic bulb shooting

When they start to produce little green shoots, you can plant the cloves individually for your next crop. They’ll start to grow quickly as they already have roots.

 

  • If you need flavour before your garlic is fully grown, you can still harvest immature bulbs (they’ll look more like leeks)!
  • To cure your garlic, hang in a dry, airy place in the shade or on racks to dry the bulbs for a couple of weeks (up to 4 weeks in cool zones).

 

Garlic drying on wire

Never let the bulbs get wet or be in hot direct sun at this stage – move indoors or keep under cover.

 

  • They are ready for storage when the bulb is papery and crinkled.

 

Garlic outer papery wrapper.

Well cured skins will harden enough with a protective outer papery wrapper to store for 6-7 months.

 

Harvesting, Curing and Storing Garlic

YouTube Preview Image

 

Storage

 

  • Hang: When they are fully dried (press hard and if there’s no resistance they’re ready).

 

Garlic in net bag

You can also store in a recycled onion bag!

 

  • Haircut: If you are going to plait the garlic, leave the leaves on, otherwise trim the tops approximately 2.5cm/1in above the bulb and snip the roots off.

 

Garlic Braids | The Micro Gardener www.themicrogardener.com

I had so much fun with this project. I prefer my garlic braids that showed a bit more plait than the bunched one and these were easier to manage because there was a little space between each bulb and it shows off the leaves as well as the garlic!

 

How to Braid Your Garlic

YouTube Preview Image

 

  • Freeze: Place individual cloves in a freezer bag. Remove as much air as possible, seal and label with the date. Store for up to 3 months. You can freeze garlic cooked or raw to use later. Whole cloves will retain their full flavour but chopped/minced raw garlic will start to develop allicin (this active ingredient is what makes it taste hot) so releasing it will give your garlic a more mellow taste. Just use a little more in the recipe if you choose to freeze, to make up for the less potent flavour when you defrost. 
  • Freeze minced garlic in an ice cube tray for convenient portions.
  • Store in a garlic keeper or open weave basket but not near humidity or steam as this can reduce the bulb storage life.
  • Storing in the fridge will reduce the flavour of your gorgeous garlic – putting it in plastic or airtight containers can produce mouldy, rotted or sprouting garlic!

 

Growing Tips

 

  • Hard neck garlic varieties produce flower stems (‘scapes’) that form heads with bulbils – prune these scapes off as soon as they appear so the plant puts its energy into producing a larger garlic bulb.

 

Stunning garlic scape.

Use the scapes as cut flowers or chop up into bite-size pieces and substitute for onions or garlic in recipes!

 

  • Plant garlic under roses to deter aphids.
  • Ensure soil is moist for newly planted garlic so roots develop. Avoid over watering and ensure good soil drainage to prevent cloves rotting.
  • If you have a problem it’s likely to be due to lack of soil preparation, management during growing, incorrect pH, choosing the wrong variety for your zone or planting at the wrong time.

 

In Part 2, ‘Amazing Uses for Garlic in Your Home & Garden I share some of the wonderful ways you can benefit from your gorgeous garlic – recipes, garden tips and for medicinal purposes. You might also enjoy Guide to Growing Spring Onions – both indoors and out!

 

Click below for more garlic resources

Your support of this site is appreciated!

So have you tried to grow garlic before? What have your experiences been?

 

Learn more*

  • According to Australian Garlic Producers, “In China, chemicals banned in Australia are still being used to grow garlic. Australia imports 95% of our garlic from China. Chinese garlic is gamma irradiated to prevent sprouting and is also sprayed with Maleic Hydrazide to extend shelf life. All imported garlic is fumigated with Methyl Bromide by AQIS on arrival in Australia.” – You decide if you want to eat garlic treated this way.
  • Australian Quarantine Inspection Services (AQIS) requirements for imported garlic “The produce is subject to mandatory (pre-shipment or on-arrival) fumigation with methyl bromide at the rate of 40g/m³ for 3 hours at 21°C.”
  • Fresher and Smellier‘ – The Age article – Explains good reasons to ask where your garlic comes from.
  • Garlic World – Traditional Worldwide Garlic Varieties for Growing and Eating. (Australia)
  • Simply Garlic – 14 Heritage Varieties of non-irradiated, herbicide & pesticide free garlic. (Canada)

 

If you don’t want to miss future posts, subscribe to my newsletter at the top of the page (and grab your free eBook) or click on the RSS feed below or to the right. Please share this post on your social networks!

 

© Copyright Anne Gibson, The Micro Gardener 2010-2013 – http://www.themicrogardener.com. All rights reserved.

84 responses so far

84 Responses to “5 Step Guide to Growing Gorgeous Garlic”

  1. Therese Van Tuylon 12 Apr 2012 at 12:46 am

    You have inspired me to grow garlic again. I buy many cloves at the farmer’s market in the summer and early fall but they don’t last and the idea of buying Chinese-grown garlic is very, very unappealing after reading your article. Thanks for the tips. I do try to grow some with my roses.

  2. The Micro Gardeneron 12 Apr 2012 at 5:46 am

    Hi Therese – so glad to hear this and thanks so much for sharing your experiences! When I learned about how the majority of garlic is grown commercially and treated before it was making it to my table, I knew I had to change my buying habits. So ‘bad’ news can sometimes be the catalyst for a much better outcome and force us to eat more healthily. I am sure when you compare the flavour of your own garlic to what you have been buying, you’ll never swap back! By the way, if you have access to lucerne/alfalfa (even tea bags or sprouts but ideally mulch), roses do extremely well by being watered/mulched with it. I learned this tip from some rose growers while we were flower farming. All the best.

  3. Mikion 12 Apr 2012 at 6:16 am

    How timely. I only planted some garlic yesterday and was thinking to myself I must research this some more and what do I find in my inbox this morning – your latest post! This is great info and just what I was after. Thank you!!!

  4. The Micro Gardeneron 12 Apr 2012 at 6:26 am

    So thrilled to hear the timing was right Miki and to hear you’re growing your own garlic. We all need to be ambassadors for healthy safe food so this is a little step we can take in the right direction. Keep us posted with your garlic adventures! Cheers, Anne

  5. Sandyon 12 Apr 2012 at 2:46 pm

    Hi Anne

    I was mortified to read the conditions of imported garlic. I am definitely going to plant a lot more garlic than what I already have as it will not last until the next growing season. I wanted to see if I could get it to grow first and so far it has been a success. Can’t wait till harvest Yum Yum ;)

  6. The Micro Gardeneron 12 Apr 2012 at 5:48 pm

    Hi Sandy
    So glad to hear you are already on your garlic growing journey. Good on you! These issues regarding safe garlic are only the tip of the iceberg sadly in terms of what’s going on with our food. Genetically modified seeds, chemicals and additives, food miles, pesticides and herbicides, long term storage resulting in minimal nutrient value and out-of-season produce in stores … I could stand on my soapbox all day as I’m passionate about educating people about what we’re really eating. My research has resulted in some eye opening truths and I hope to continue to share what I’ve learned here. Making small changes can make a big difference to our personal health and also send a message to companies that we want safe local fresh food to eat or we won’t buy it from them. I wrote another article relating to this subject about How to Shop Sustainably that you might enjoy reading too.
    In the meantime, all the best with growing gorgeous garlic … Cheers, Anne :)

  7. Davidon 14 Apr 2012 at 4:00 am

    Hi Anne,
    I’ve been reading your email newsletters for some months now & I generally like what you write about, this latest about Garlic has been no exception! Even though I live in the UK I still find the subjects you write about interesting. I even posted a link to your site on my Facebook page.

    For the last couple of years I’ve been growing veg on an allotment. I’ve grown Garlic for two years but I can never seem to find two people on the allotments that agree on how you should treat them! So reading your article has been a great help. You may be entering the autumn & we the spring but the problem remains the same – & for me it’s a constant with a lot of the veg I grow, & that is WHEN do you harvest them?

    I’ve been used to growing flowering plants for the better part of 50 years &, other than tomatoes, haven’t grown veg up until 3 years ago. I find your newsletters “down to earth”, if you’ll pardon the expression!

    Happy gardening,

    David

  8. The Micro Gardeneron 14 Apr 2012 at 10:20 pm

    Hi David – thanks so much for your lovely feedback … much appreciated and for posting a link on your Facebook site!

    I know a number of subscribers in exactly your position who also garden in the UK on allotments. I have a few suggestions for you that I hope will help.

    Firstly, the most important factor for harvesting is to know which variety of garlic (or any fruit/veggie/herb) you are growing and days to maturity. You can find this information from the grower you buy from or online catalogue. If you know the maturity date, you can work out the approximate harvest date on your calendar from time of planting (I use a wonderful free online tool to record these dates called MyFolia and thoroughly recommend you check it out – free to join). It’s a great source of knowledge and you can locate other gardeners in your local area who may be able to give you specific advice on your local variety and timing. There are loads of groups including Garlic, Onions & Chives where there are numerous discussions on various aspects of growing the allium family. You can also find a helpful list of Garlic Varieties and information on growing them on the MyFolia site.

    Secondly, as I mentioned in the article, look at the physical plant and what it is ‘telling’ you around the expected harvest date. By this I mean, learning to ‘read’ your plant’s ‘language’. All plants communicate – mainly through their leaves – so once you know what you’re looking for, you can interpret the signs. If you are growing hard neck varieties, the flower (scape) will usually appear about a month before harvesting and the dying off of leaves is the plant’s way of telling you it’s nearing time. Inspecting the bulbs by brushing dirt away and checking if the cloves have formed is another way you can determine how soon to harvest. You can harvest before the ideal maturity date if you really need to but ideal timing for longer storage is fully mature garlic.

    Hope this helps and please let me know if you need more info David.

    Happy planting!
    Anne

  9. Jean Burkeon 17 Apr 2012 at 3:33 pm

    Thanks for the information on Garlic. I have planted mine in the allotment this week to grow through our Queensland winter. Jean.

  10. The Micro Gardeneron 17 Apr 2012 at 4:17 pm

    Hi Jean – so glad you found the info on garlic useful – just love this wonderful herb. I popped over to your wonderful blog for a peek at what you’re growing. You sound like you love gardening in the Beelarong Community Garden – and you can always compost your corn crop! In fact chopped up it makes great mulch. I promote Beelarong’s farm activities on the other website I publish, Green Journey which has loads of resources and a comprehensive What’s On calendar listing local workshops and green events in SEQ. You might like to check the calendar regularly for free workshops/courses on gardening and subscribe to the free newsletter so you’re kept up to date with the latest news and stories. Happy planting! :)

  11. Sherryon 26 Apr 2012 at 12:38 pm

    Do you have a facebook page? If you do, we can’t find it. :) Thanks for your great site.

  12. The Micro Gardeneron 26 Apr 2012 at 2:29 pm

    Hi Sherry
    Thanks so much for your interest and feedback. You can find me at http://www.facebook.com/TheMicroGardener.
    Cheers
    Anne

  13. [...] There are many varieties of garlic but they are usually categorised into 2 major groups by cultivators :- Hardnecks and Softnecks or Silverskins, the ones usually found in grocery stores. Then there is wet garlic which is the 1st crop of the season before it gets hung up and dried out. Then we have Wild Garlic known as Ramsons, Allium ursine. This looks completely different – see photo just below. You can eat all the parts but it is usually the leaves that are used in salads and they make a great pesto sauce! This is a garlic-some article on how to grow garlic  for all you garlic lovers http://themicrogardener.com/5-step-guide-to-growing-gorgeous-garlic/  [...]

  14. The Micro Gardeneron 27 Apr 2012 at 7:23 am

    Hi Iridology For Health …
    Thanks for sharing your great article on the Health aspects of garlic with The Micro Gardener community. It has lots of helpful info on the medicinal healing qualities of garlic and how it’s been used historically.
    One of the best herbs we can use for healing, health and well-being.
    Cheers, Anne

  15. maryon 27 Apr 2012 at 12:53 pm

    What a great article on garlic! I’m in central Texas, not Australia but still great info. I planted some garlic yesterday when I planted my onions, had some in the fridge that I either had to throw away or plant & I decided-what the heck? The worst that can happen is nothing! Am now reading your blog! :)

  16. [...] you missed Part 1 – 5 Step Guide to Growing Gorgeous Garlic, then check it out – you’ll learn just how easy it is to grow this flavoursome, [...]

  17. The Micro Gardeneron 27 Apr 2012 at 2:15 pm

    Hi Mary
    Great to hear from you and it seems – good timing! I am with you – nothing to lose by planting it and if it’s been refrigerated, even better! Worst case, you’ll end up with some delicious garlic green leaves to add to meals and best case, you’ll be enjoying the flavour and satisfaction of home grown gorgeous garlic.
    I’ve just posted Part 2 of this article, Amazing Uses for Garlic in Your Home & Garden. Dig in and enjoy!
    Happy growing, Anne :)

  18. zahraon 27 Apr 2012 at 9:37 pm

    Hey!
    Read your post and it made me motivated to start growing my own garlic this season! Hoping to see your Facebook page soon! As I am from Asia which month would be suitable for growing garlic?

  19. The Micro Gardeneron 27 Apr 2012 at 10:24 pm

    Hi Zahra
    Thanks for your comment and thrilled to hear you’ll be growing your own garlic. In mild climates you can grow garlic all year round (like I do here in the sub-tropics) but in cooler climates, it’s generally recommended to plant in autumn/fall. In any case, it’s best to give it a go. I’ve had my most exciting discoveries of what works and grows well in my local climate just by experimenting. Worst case, you’ll end up with garlic leaves to use in your stir fries and best case, you’ll be enjoying your own gorgeous garlic within a few months.
    Try checking the climate zones resources I have listed in my article What to Plant When – this might help you. Here’s a list of Asian hardiness zones.
    Would love to hear your progress … keep us posted! :)

  20. Mollyon 29 Apr 2012 at 12:26 am

    So happy to have found this post from a Pinterest pin! My garlic was a gift from a Korean friend about 7 years ago and with each new harvest I bless her more. You have provided great tips and information thank you!

  21. The Micro Gardeneron 29 Apr 2012 at 7:29 am

    Hi Molly and welcome along to The Micro Gardener. What a gift your friend gave you! I truly believe the best gifts we can give ones we love are seeds of knowledge and something from our garden … a herb, cutting, some saved seeds, a shared harvest, a meal. Our gardens offer us a banquet to share with others and we never know where the seeds will grow. Thanks again for stopping by and so glad you found some tips to use. Happy gardening! :)

  22. [...] 5 Step Guide to Growing Gorgeous Garlic [...]

  23. Davidon 26 Jun 2012 at 6:02 am

    Hi once again Anne,

    Thanks for all that info in reply to the post I made back in April. What do you know/advise on rust on Garlic & Leeks? On the allotment they have developed rust. We have had a very wet & cold June this year. I think the Garlic is about ready to lift as, like you mention the leaves are now dying back, as we are forecast a few days of warm, dry weather this week, do you think I could lift them now? I also tried digging around the base of one this morning but the soil is so wet I couldn’t get enough away from the bulb to determine if it might be ready. Does rust damage the cloves or only the leaves?

    The Leeks are producing big flower buds & have rust. Can they be dug up & used or should I pull them up & get rid of them? Which brings up another question: Can the rusty leaves be composted or should they be disposed off some other way?

    Thanks for your interesting newsletters!

  24. The Micro Gardeneron 26 Jun 2012 at 7:49 am

    Hi David

    Thanks for asking these questions. Rust is one of those diseases that pops up from time to time in many gardens. I’ve had it appear on my shallots/green onions – also members of the Allium family. Rusts are caused by fungal spores that are carried and spread by the wind. Rust is quite difficult to control for this reason as these spores can spread to a wide area and other plants quite quickly.

    However each rust variety is usually limited to a specific host (such as the Allium family) so is unlikely to spread to other plants on the allotment. Moist, humid conditions create perfect growing conditions for rust.

    With garlic and onions, rust appears on the leaves but can affect the size of the bulbs. With leeks, mild infections may do little damage but if left unchecked can kill the plants. In your situation, time is of the essence to control the outbreak. I suggest the following:

    Good Hygiene – To control the outbreak, promptly remove and destroy all infected plants. Save your garlic whatever stage of development it’s at (small cloves are better than nothing!) and make sure you bag and dispose of the infected plants rather than adding them to compost. Spores will stay in the soil for several years.
    Be Observant & Act Fast – If you see any more infected leaves appearing, remove them immediately. Rust generally starts as spots on the upper leaf surface and underneath the leaf a powdery pustule appears. Eventually the spores growing inside the leaf will burst through the outer leaf layer and spread on the wind. So early intervention minimises damage. Pay attention to your hands and clothing/shoes that may have been in contact with the soil or plants and wash them too.
    Good Crop Rotation Practices – Because the surrounding soil likely contains dormant rust spores, avoid planting members of the Allium family in this area for 2-3 years.
    Grow in Pots/Containers – Because you only have a small space, you could consider growing in fresh potting mix that has not been contaminated with the spores in container gardens. This still allows you to grow your Allium family without waiting such a long time. Build up that soil with a green manure crop and increase the humus level.
    Minerals & Fertilisers – Avoid synthetic or chemical fertilisers – many are high in nitrogen which can make plants more susceptible to rust as they encourage lush growth. A balance of minerals, organic fertilisers and compost build plant immunity. Silica is important for cell wall strength so if you are adding an organic fertiliser, check the ingredients. Seaweed is also essential for soil and plant health as it provides many trace minerals.
    Good Drainage – Check your garden beds to ensure water is able to drain away rather than build up and create a humid environment. Build your soil with ingredients that will create humus (worm castings, compost, manures, mulches and coconut fibre) to buffer too much moisture.
    Correct Spacing – Make sure there is adequate air flow around the plants to avoid a build up of humid conditions that can favour fungal diseases.
    Plant Selection – You may be able to find varieties that are somewhat resistant to rust. Ask your local suppliers.

    Hope this helps and provides you with some solutions to manage this problem. Let me know how it goes. :)

  25. [...] Garlic [...]

  26. [...] a bulb of garlic and separate the cloves – these can be individually planted and yield many new [...]

  27. Laurieon 17 Sep 2012 at 12:28 am

    My eyes were bigger than my stomach! I bought a rather large tub of peeled cloves several months ago which I think should either be tossed or planted. My question is what should I do? If planted, how long til harvest?

  28. The Micro Gardeneron 17 Sep 2012 at 2:33 pm

    Hi Laurie
    Well I say “waste not, want not”! You’ve got nothing to lose by trying to plant them! I’ve never bothered peeling my cloves however I know some home gardeners do – you can find the instructions on planting garlic cloves that are already peeled at Gourmet Garlic Gardens and also Daphne’s Dandelion blog.
    Harvest time will depend on the kind of garlic you are planting – since they’ve come in a tub I assume from a deli or supermarket, it will be a mystery until they sprout and grow! Follow the general guidelines in my article and you will know when they are ready. If they grow successfully, save some cloves for the following year’s crop. Then you will know how many months they will take.
    Happy planting and hope this helps! :)

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  32. narf7on 22 Jan 2013 at 5:01 am

    Hi Annie, I think the main reason why people are not eating more Aussie garlic is the very high price. How can garlic remain competitive when the cheap Chinese import is $2.50 for a bag and a single bulb of Aussie garlic is the same price in the supermarkets! I am in the process of growing stacks of garlic but can easily see why people ignore the Aussie stuff and head straight over to the cheap Chinese import or the jar (ech).

  33. The Micro Gardeneron 22 Jan 2013 at 12:36 pm

    That’s a very good question Fran. Aussie farmers do have higher labour costs so will never be able to compete price wise with cheap chemically grown Chinese imports. One good alternative is Jensen’s Crushed Organic Garlic – they are an Aussie brand that sell their products in jars at reasonable prices so perhaps this could be a good option for those without the space, time or skills. The other crushed garlic products I’m aware of in our supermarkets are either made in China or not organic.

    I’ve noticed at our local farmer’s markets that ‘Australian garlic’ is being sold now where it never was before (& at reasonable prices) although this too is being grown conventionally – with chemicals. Perhaps the message about Chinese garlic is starting to impact sales slowly. However, the average consumer doesn’t realise “Australian Garlic” is still grown with pesticides unless it is labelled Certified Organic.

    I’ve found in the kitchen when cooking with organic garlic (my own especially as I put so many minerals in the soil), that I use far less because the flavour is so intense. Perhaps the Chinese sell such big bags for so little because you need to use a lot of it due to the lack of flavour! Flavour is evidence that the crop has been grown with nutrients and the purpose of eating garlic is to get the health benefits – it’s false economy in my opinion to buy/eat cheap garlic for this reason.

    I wrote this post because I feel education is one of the keys to becoming informed and empowering people with the skills to either grow it themselves or buy certified organic. Interestingly, I’ve heard that organic garlic doesn’t give you ‘garlic breath’. Good on you for growing yours – I hope you get a bumper crop. :)

  34. Le roux Annickon 02 Mar 2013 at 11:32 pm

    Bonjour, je vie en France dans le Morbihan, je n’ai jamais cultiver d’ail, pouvez vous me dire si en Bretagne c’est possible, car le climat est humide ?
    Merci, Amitiés
    Annick

  35. Carol Springer-Witfothon 03 Mar 2013 at 12:57 am

    I just found you! I am an experimental microgardener because I live in a townhouse. I’m so excited to learn more. I have subsribed just now and am looking forward to the book. Your site is fantastic and plan to return often. Thank you!

  36. The Micro Gardeneron 03 Mar 2013 at 6:17 am

    Pas de problème Annick! Travaillez avec vos saisons pour trouver le meilleur moment pour planter. Commencez avec votre zone climatique. Vous pouvez utiliser http://www.gardenate.com comme un guide pour les bons moments pour planter l’ail et de nombreux autres légumes. En général, dans votre région, je crois Novembre et Février / Mars (maintenant!!) Est un bon moment car elle exige des températures froides de croître. Suivez mon guide pour les étapes. Bonne chance et amusez-vous. S’il vous plaît pardonnez mon français que je dois utiliser un traducteur pour vous aider!

  37. The Micro Gardeneron 03 Mar 2013 at 6:21 am

    Welcome Carol! Thanks for stopping by. I hope you enjoy the site and finding tips to grow your edible garden. I suggest you check out the posts on growing in containers and making your own potting mix for starters. There are categories on the left with the basics and easy to follow tutorials. Try these:
    http://themicrogardener.com/fast-food-diy-instant-veggie-garden-part-1/
    http://themicrogardener.com/fast-food-diy-instant-veggie-garden-part-2/
    http://themicrogardener.com/easy-diy-potting-mix-recipe/
    Happy planting and reading!

  38. Anneon 28 Mar 2013 at 3:44 pm

    Dear Anne,
    Hi! Your website is sooo interesting. I am new to gardening but have tried my hand at tomatoes, and some herbs. My tomatoes didn’t do to bad. They did yield quite a lot. They where plum tomatoes. The herbs I grew last year (grown in pots) Oregano, Thyme, Basil, and Tarragon did real well.
    At the time I was living in a different state than I am in now and the soil was real good compared to where I live now. In a different state and the soil is mostly clay. But I now have the space to grow real garden. Going to purchase the moon calendar and will get a ph tester also. But anyway my question is the area I have picked for my garden, when I get it tilled up should I literally remove that soil and replace it with better dirt and nutrients or should I think of building something above ground and then just fill that in. If I need to replace the dirt how deep should I dig it out?
    Or is there a way to mix something in with the clay to make it a looser soil?
    Want to try to grow garlic also. Read your article on growing garlic and really want to grow that. LOVE garlic.

    Thank You, Anne :)

  39. The Micro Gardeneron 28 Mar 2013 at 5:06 pm

    Thanks so much for your feedback and sharing your story with growing a vegie patch. I’ll try to help answer your questions.
    The quality of your soil is everything and the most important area to put your time and effort. It will repay you handsomely. I don’t “till” any ground, any time EVER. There’s a good reason for this (besides the fact I have a bad back and have limited time!) and that is it disturbs the microorganisms in the soil. The health of your soil depends on tiny fungi, bacteria and other creatures so I always build soil on top of what I already have. You can use a garden fork to aerate the soil and then build on top.
    One of the simplest ways to improve your clay soil is to add minerals (such as gypsum which helps break up clay soil but also needs calcium present so that’s why it’s good to have a balanced mineral mix) + organic matter – lots of whatever you have easy access to! You can add this straight on the ground where you want to start growing or build a raised bed with sides.
    There are many options for making raised beds but one of the cheapest solutions that I’ve used is hay bales. Start with enough to make 2 long sides (e.g. 2 or 3 bales long) x 1 bale wide to form a rectangular bed. The bonus is you can ‘sit’ on the sides to garden/sow/tend. As they break down they are perfect to add to the top of the garden bed to replenish it and they are full of worms. Then I add fresh bales around the edges to start again. Every year the soil improves more and more. Here in the subtropics it takes about 9 months for the bales to break down due to the hot/wet weather and microbial action but colder climates they would last much longer. You can also cover the bales in weed mat with a staple gun to preserve them even longer.
    Once you have your outer bales in place in a rectangle, use stakes to hold them in place. Using another bale (or as many as you need), break it up into ‘biscuits’ about 3 inches thick and lay these on the ground inside the hay bale raised no dig ‘bed’. If you have grass/weeds, cover with wet cardboard or weed mat first to prevent these growing up into your bed. As the hay breaks down, it will add valuable organic matter to the soil and improve drainage. Then layer other organic materials (like a lasagne) on top of the hay layer alternating greens (nitrogen rich) e.g. grass clippings, prunings, vegetable scraps, fresh manures, blood & bone, etc with browns (carbon rich) e.g. leaf litter, compost, aged manures, saw dust, more hay etc. Finish with a carbon layer. I always add minerals and organic soil conditioners/fertilisers as I go, so as the layers break down into a rich humus and soil medium, your plants will have plenty of food to grow.
    Garlic doesn’t need such a great depth and I’ve planted these just into an 8 inch deep bed I made with hay and organic matter. They thrived! I really encourage you to give this a go.
    Here’s a pic of one of my beds I made using this method.
    Hay bale raised garden bed
    Hope this helps! :)

  40. Jesson 04 Apr 2013 at 2:38 am

    Hi! This is a great guide and has convinced me to make room for garlic in my veggie patch. My question is, do you harvest once for the whole year? How does that fit in with the 6-7 month storage life? Or do you plant and harvest twice a year? Thanks!

  41. The Micro Gardeneron 04 Apr 2013 at 7:07 am

    Hi Jess
    Thanks for your question. Yes I plant and harvest twice a year. Have just planted both large and small bulb varieties that have long and short growth periods (respectively) so the harvest times are staggered. Garlic can be planted at different times during the year but does prefer some cool temps to mature so you may have to stagger your plantings according to your climate zone. Also try planting some in containers so you can move these in/out into more protected spaces if needed. I had to experiment a bit to work out which varieties are best for my climate so you may have to do the same. The reward of tasting AMAZING flavour and the health benefits of home grown garlic is truly worth it! I’m sure you’ll notice an incredible difference when you taste your first clove as the flavour is quite intense compared to non-organic commercially grown garlic especially when you add nutrients to your soil. Hope this helps and enjoy the journey.

  42. Connieon 13 Apr 2013 at 10:44 pm

    Hi,
    I’ve been growing my own hard neck variety for about five years now. I picked up the starter cloves at a regional garlic festival on a whim. There is no flavour better than home grown. I ran out of home grown last year and was forced to purchase the imported Chinese garlic, how bland it was. Thanks for sharing your insights into this topic! Garlic grower in Toronto, Canada

  43. The Micro Gardeneron 14 Apr 2013 at 5:54 am

    Hi Connie
    Thanks for sharing your experience with us. One of my goals is to help people become more ‘conscious consumers’ and learn WHY we should grow our own food – even if it’s a small percentage and especially crops like garlic. It’s empowering, saves money, is so good for our health – and as you say, incredible FLAVOUR!! :)

  44. Rikaon 21 Apr 2013 at 12:50 am

    Thank you for sharing! You can also eat the leaves, stir fry with meat or add in soup.

  45. The Micro Gardeneron 21 Apr 2013 at 6:51 am

    Thanks Rika for sharing your tip with cooking garlic. There are some more ways to enjoy using it in my article Amazing Uses for Garlic in Your Home & Garden.

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  47. Lianaon 06 Aug 2013 at 1:39 am

    Thanks for tip on growing around roses, I have a terrible problem with aphids on my roses. I am growing garlic for the first time and the one I grew is about ready to be harvested.

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  49. The Micro Gardeneron 07 Aug 2013 at 2:58 pm

    I’m sure your garlic will taste amazing. Try using a powerful jet of water to remove the aphids. If they’re present, it’s likely your soil needs work so make sure you have added sufficient organic matter and mulch around your roses and this should help. :)

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  51. Steve Evanson 19 Aug 2013 at 4:05 am

    Hi Anne,

    Great website, I really enjoyed it.

    I’m in north central Florida and have been growing garlic for the past several years but have a problem getting it to clove. The garlic is good but one solid bulb. Not that that is bad but would like to have cloves. Have any idea what might be going on?

    Soil pH is right where it should be and I continue to amend the soil so it is right about neutral (7.0). My seed source has been the super market but wonder if a good seed (clove) from a reputable garlic farmer would be a good source.

    Have any ideas?

    Steve

  52. The Micro Gardeneron 19 Aug 2013 at 6:44 am

    Hi Steve
    Thanks so much for your feedback. I always start my crop with organic garlic NEVER from the supermarket. I just don’t trust it for a whole range of reasons and some garlic is sprayed with chemical treatments so it won’t sprout (i.e. so you have to keep buying garlic rather than growing your own). I want to grow LOCAL certified organic garlic so I invest in a variety of quality bulbs to get my own crop started from farmers I know personally. Depending on how many I plant, that may be $8-10 worth but if I’m saving around $80 then it’s a good investment. I choose a few varieties so I have some early and some late and can store over an extended period.
    I am not sure what variety you are planting. When you decide, you should find out the growing period for your zone – here for example one smaller variety grows in 3 months where the rest take around 6 however others take around 8 months. Bulbs only develop about a month before harvest. So an underdeveloped bulb could mean:
    - you harvested too early
    - the conditions have not been suitable – i.e. the garlic didn’t have a period of cold or your conditions were not warm or sunny enough to fully develop
    - the soil may have completely dried out during bulb formation (regular watering during this period is essential)
    - insufficient thick layer of mulch.
    Perhaps consider these factors? I hope this helps.
    Cheers Anne

  53. Evette de la Mareon 26 Aug 2013 at 12:13 pm

    Wow. Lovely site. Great article on growing garlic. I am going to try it. Thank you for taking the time to share this info with all the other people out there, who dont know how to do these wonderful things. :)

  54. 5 Step Guide To Growing Gorgeous Garlicon 29 Aug 2013 at 7:25 pm

    [...] 5 Step Guide To Growing Garlic Related PostsHow To Make A Natural and Organic PesticideHow To Build A Greenhouse For $5066 Things You Can Grow In ContainersHow To Build A Herb Spiral In 4 StepsHow To Harvest And Use Lavender Filed Under: Garden Ideas [...]

  55. Tavion 09 Sep 2013 at 11:33 pm

    This is THE most complete and comprehensive guide to garlic that I’ve seen yet! Well done! And thank you so much for sharing all of your research and hard work. You are a great inspiration.

  56. The Micro Gardeneron 10 Sep 2013 at 6:15 am

    I appreciate your feedback Tavi. Many thanks. :)

  57. Victoriaon 11 Oct 2013 at 3:35 pm

    Hello! Please help. I live in eastern Melbourne and I just harvested my first attempt at garlic. The green was turning brown and was limp, the stem looked a good size. Anyway the bulbs were tiny, barely bigger than the width of the stems. Bummed a bit but not defeated. Where do you think I may have gone wrong? They were cloves leftover from shop bought garlic. Good drainage, good soil. Yes the one closest to my peas was a pathetic skinny thing so have learnt that lesson. I don’t remember how many months ago I planted but it would have been autumn. Nothing looked rotted, etc. just anything in the soil was miniature! Thanks!

  58. The Micro Gardeneron 11 Oct 2013 at 4:16 pm

    Hi Victoria
    Congrats on having a go at growing your own garlic! I have to admit I never start with shop bought garlic – I only use certified organic so I know what I’m starting with so the variety and treatment may have something to do with your results. It sounds like the timing was right for planting/harvesting but you don’t mention anything about mulch? This is key to helping the garlic have a long cool period in the soil for the cloves to form. If you missed this step, try again with your next crop with a thick layer of mulch and you will likely have much more success. Good luck!

  59. Cyndeeon 21 Oct 2013 at 8:57 am

    I live in Atlanta, GA. USA and want to plant garlic for the first time in containers. First off: Can I use bulbs from the braid I bought at the grocery store? Should I refrigerate them first? I want soft neck garlic to make my own braids.
    Thanks for your help!

  60. The Micro Gardeneron 21 Oct 2013 at 10:18 pm

    Hi Cyndee, you can give the bulbs you have a try and refrigerate first to pre-chill them although this step is optional. You don’t mention whether they are organic, local or imported so I am not sure whether they have been treated chemically or not. Perhaps this should be your first consideration? If they’ve been fumigated, try to source certified organic in your location from a reputable farm or retailer. All the best!

  61. Cyndeeon 22 Oct 2013 at 8:41 am

    I’ll check at the grocery store where I got them and see what/where they came from. I really appreciate your help. In any event, I’m going to throw something into pots and see what happens :)
    I sure appreciate your thoughtful advice. Thanks again!

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  70. Terrion 10 Mar 2014 at 3:00 pm

    I am in my second season growing garlic. I was so thrilled with the harvest…I tripled my planting for this year. I grew Chesnok Red, and the flavor is just outstanding. It stored well for 6-7 months. I live in the Midwest, and we had a terribly wet autumn. In fact, I wasn’t able to get into the garden to plant the garlic until the second week of Decemeber! Now…we have had the hardest winter on record for my area, snow, bitter cold….so….I’ve been hoping that all of those cloves I got into the ground have survived! I enjoyed reading through your article, and reading through the experiences of other people growing their own. Garlic will be a permanent part of my gardening from here on out..I love it!

  71. The Micro Gardeneron 11 Mar 2014 at 8:34 am

    Hi Terri

    Thanks so much for your comment. I appreciated you sharing your experience and variety you’ve grown. It’s a help to others to know what grows well in their area. I hope your hard work will pay off come time for the ground to thaw! Please drop us a line and let us know how you go this season. If you are on Facebook, you’re welcome to come join our community page with thousands of other keen organic small space gardeners. We share lots of tips and inspiration there too and see pics of other people’s gardens.

    Happy gardening Terri and look forward to hearing more about your garden this year. Cheers Anne

  72. Loraine Pretoriuson 15 Apr 2014 at 3:56 pm

    Hi Anne
    Thank you for your article – have not yet tried to grow garlic but really keen to start. I stay in Cape Town South Africa and we have a very wet rainy winter. I see that you start in Autumn – could I do that too – would the rainy weather not hinder the growth? When I buy garlic bulbs I peel them and store them in the fridge covered with olive oil – find that they keep well for a good month.

    Loraine

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  74. […] to Anne Gibson http://themicrogardener.com/5-step-guide-to-growing-gorgeous-garlic/ garlic shouldn’t be grown near peas or beans.  Do any of you have experience with that???  […]

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  77. Cathy Achinoon 16 May 2014 at 2:54 am

    Anne,

    Thanks for a very indepth article about garlic. I never really thought about it as I am usually so busy trying select all the “bigger” produce organically. I did not know they irradiated the garlic or bought it from China. I thought it was a small item we must grow a ton of it in the U.S. Just goes to show you you have to look into everything. Thanks for doing the homework for us and showing us exact details to grow our own.

  78. Anne Gibsonon 16 May 2014 at 12:16 pm

    Glad you found the article helpful Cathy. Just because garlic is small in size, doesn’t diminish its health benefits or the price! It’s definitely one to grow at home and allocate a small space to save money & improve your health.

  79. GalopaWXYon 25 May 2014 at 7:39 pm

    Such a wonderful and complete guide ! I wish I could find such thoughout articles for every crop I wish to grow.

    Just wondering – is the newly harvested garlic edible, or does it really have to dry for a few weeks first ? I always heard that you get the most nutrients out of your veggies and fruits if you eat them as soon as possible once harvested. And indeed, even my local organic seller has them dried… I never saw fresh garlic !

  80. Anne Gibsonon 26 May 2014 at 5:50 pm

    Yes the newly harvested garlic IS edible! It is cured and dried so you can maximise the storage life of your garlic. Well cured, your garlic will last for months. If you don’t allow it to dry out, you will need to use it much faster!

  81. Theresa Barneson 23 Jun 2014 at 8:16 am

    Thank you so much for your information on garlic. We moved into our house 4 years ago and it has a hard neck garlic bed that comes back every year. I have a question, how does it do that? We pull the garlic every year and use it and to date we have never planted anything in it’s place, but it keeps coming back. We are going to add some more cloves to the ground this year to see if we can get more to grow. Just wondering if you know anything about how it keeps coming back??? it is all in a bunch, not in rows and we get about 30 bulbs of garlic every year.

    Thanks!

  82. Anne Gibsonon 24 Jun 2014 at 7:25 am

    Hi Theresa is it possible to email me a photo of your garlic? You don’t mention where in the world you are located. True garlic ‘Allium Sativum’ has 2 sub-species – hard-neck and soft-neck but there are about 10 known varietal groups within these. There are also many allium varieties (onion family) including Egyptian or Walking onions, so it would be helpful to have an image to ID your variety. You may possibly find it easier to ID your variety with the hardneck descriptions found here. Hope this helps.

  83. Deborah Shire Gardeneron 22 Aug 2014 at 5:43 pm

    This informative and eye opening post has just been passed on to me. I have never had success growing garlic but am now determined to make it happen. I do buy organic, British grown garlic, but even so what goes on out of sight does not bear thinking about.

    May I please share a link to this page on my next blog entry later this week?

  84. Anne Gibsonon 26 Aug 2014 at 1:54 pm

    Hi Deborah
    Feel free to share a link to my garlic article and please come back and share yours on this page too!
    Cheers Anne

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